"Not All Heroes Wear Capes"

Words by: Brittany Lopez
Photography by: Fred Agho


In a landscape where traditional education sometimes struggles to resonate with today's youth, it's crucial to recognize the exceptional educators who are reshaping the school curriculum to better engage and inspire students. 

Jarren Small, a former substitute teacher disappointed by the limitations of traditional education, embarked on a mission to empower students through unconventional methods. Recognizing the need for change, he co-founded Reading With A Rapper (R.W.A.R.) alongside Douglas Johnson, seamlessly blending rap and literacy to challenge educational norms. 

R.W.A.R. actively involves underserved community students by integrating rap music and elements of hip-hop culture into the curriculum. Emphasizing reading comprehension, vocabulary, and creative writing, R.W.A.R. not only improves literacy but also fosters confidence and a passion for learning, thereby dispelling negative stereotypes associated with the world of Hip-Hop. The curriculum's achievements owe much to the dedicated team. Let's meet the squad: Yobi, Jordan, and the teachers Gabrielle, Rodney, Takara whose stories epitomize the essence of teaching.  

Yobi and Jordan form a dynamic team at Reading With a Rapper (RWAR). Yobi, the RWAR music director, brings his extensive experience working with children and a passion for igniting their creativity through rap music. He sees the value in pushing educational boundaries and using music to engage students, aiming to inspire them to explore their artistic potential. Meanwhile, Jordan Lee Harris serves as the President of R.W.A.R.'s marketing division, leveraging his storytelling expertise gained from his background in news. He was drawn to the organization's mission in 2012, met the team in 2013, and has since played a pivotal role in its evolution into a literacy program. Responsible for pitching ideas and overseeing day-to-day operations, Jordan is dedicated to making a tangible impact on students' lives through R.W.A.R.'s initiatives.

Gabrielle draws inspiration from her grandmother, who was also a teacher, instilling in her a desire to make a difference from a young age. With 12 years of experience in language arts and reading, she currently teaches 7th grade, though her journey began in 4th grade. Despite the common teacher burnout hurdles, Gabrielle finds immense fulfillment in witnessing her students' growth, not only academically but also socially and emotionally. She sees her role as shaping individuals who will make a positive impact in the world, which she considers the greatest reward of her profession.

Rodney, also known as Roddy, specializes in special education ELA. Like Gabrielle, he initially hesitated to enter teaching but was driven by a deep desire to support youth. Starting as a teacher's aide, he soon noticed the stifling effect of the curriculum on children's self-expression. Recognizing the outdated structure of schools and the educational system, Roddy was inspired to seek innovative methods. He embraced teaching as an opportunity to make the difference he felt was necessary.

Takara teaches 6th-grade social studies, initially not planning to pursue teaching. However, she took a chance when the opportunity arose and, like her colleagues, fell in love with the profession. For Takara, teaching offers fulfillment beyond monetary rewards; it's about the flexibility and joy of witnessing her students' excitement every day. She finds happiness in the small gestures of her students and treasures her interactions with them. Takara adeptly navigates the challenges of integrating social media into learning, ensuring mindfulness regarding potential distractions and internet safety concerns. As a modern educator, she adapts to the digital landscape, particularly with students accustomed to social media as a norm, keeping in mind the advancements of society and updating relatability for the new generation. 

Premium Goods extends a heartfelt thank you to the educators who tirelessly shape our children and the future generation of our community. To show our appreciation, we are proud to announce that we have created a PG x RWAR exclusive designed New Era Hat capsule to raise funds towards The Daphne Hoard National Teacher Fund. More information coming soon!

Learn more about Daphne Hoard and her impactful work at READINGWITHARAPPER.COM. Your support makes a difference in the lives of educators and students alike. 

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